Professors Robert Dworkin (University of Rochester) and Dennis Turk (University of Washington) are feeling no pain!

Read their hilarious emails about how they’re making tens of thousands of dollars off of pharma – which wants to listen in on American professors conversing about new developments along the Oxycontin line (We Americans ♥♥ LOVE♥♥ our Oxycontin. Just look at any town in West Virginia. Eli Lilly’s got us eating out of its hand!).

’20k [to attend a meeting] is small change, and they can justify it easily if they want to be at the table,’ Dworkin wrote to Turk in July 2003, after an Eli Lilly representative bridled at the price.

Dworkin’s absolutely right. Once you’ve got a national (soon to be international!) epidemic going, you’re talking real money. Dworkin knows Lilly routinely pays billions in fines every year for illegal this and that, and it really don’t make no never mind since when your profits are zillions you can laugh at billions. So this Lilly asshole has the gall to bridle at paying twenty thou to sit in a room for twenty minutes? UD finds it amazing the Dworkin/Turk gang isn’t demanding twenty million per meeting.

Possibly Dworkin and Turk are low-balling because they’re professors and not businesspeople and there’s a learning curve for them. This might be helpful for context:

[There's a new rule,] unveiled by the S.E.C. … requiring companies to disclose the ratio of the C.E.O.’s pay to that of the median worker. The idea is that, once the disparity is made public, companies will be less likely to award outsized pay packages… [Yet C.E.O. compensation continues, and almost certainly will continue, to rise.] Sunlight is supposed to be the best disinfectant. But there’s something naïve about the new S.E.C. rule, which presumes that full disclosure will embarrass companies enough to restrain executive pay. As [one expert] told me, “People who can ask to be paid a hundred million dollars are beyond embarrassment.”

If Dworkin and Turk find themselves at all hesitant, they can tape this article to their refrigerators and reread it just before talking price with Lilly.

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4 Responses to ““At one point in the e-mails, they proposed that they receive honoraria of $5,000 apiece for a four-hour meeting at a hotel near the FDA offices.””

  1. david foster Says:

    Would you also favor a regulation requiring politicians (including those who are retired from “public service”) to publish the ratios of their incomes to that of their constituents? (Bill and Hillary Clinton have a combined net worth of something like $100MM; Bill often gets $100K for a single speech. Al Gore’s net worth is cited at between $200MM and $200MM. Virtually all of this wealth, in all three cases, flows primarily from the influence, visibility, and contacts that these individuals got as a result of their government jobs.)

    How about a regulation requiring entertainers and athletes to publish the ratio of their incomes to those of the lowest-paid person in their production company or on the support staff of their team?

    How about a regulation requiring journalists (looking right at Tom Friedman here) to publish the ratio of their incomes to the person who sweeps out the offices of the NYT?

    Or perhaps universities should be required to publish the incomes of their administrators and highest-paid tenured professors (including the cash values of benefits, mansions, etc) in comparison to the un-benefited adjunct instructors?

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    David: Well, it was the SEC and not I who decided to make CEO compensation public – nothing in what I wrote suggests I support the action. I actually think it’s sort of dumb – or naive, as the New Yorker writer puts it. Hell, I’d guess that many CEOs are proud to have the ratio published.

  3. david foster Says:

    CEO compensation for publicly-traded companies has always (or at least for a very long time) been public: you can easily find it in the filings on the SEC website. (IIRC, the requirement is for the 5 most highly-compensated employees to be disclosed.) The new rule just requires the calculation of the ratio to the median worker pay.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Right – I should have said makes the ratio public.

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